The ‘nemesisters’ of winter need summer

By Brenda Burns - Contributing columnist

Although I can’t complain we’ve had a rough winter, it is nearing the point in February when I’m ready for the cheerful pop of daffodils.

The days are gradually getting longer and the zany cats at my house are ready for frolicking once again in the great outdoors. They roam from door to door inside the house hoping that one of them is the door to summer.

I met a lady named Connie at the grocery store and she requested another column about the cats. Since they are a gold mine for funny column material, I’m obliging Connie’s request — especially since we both know and like Shirley Scott.

We’ve all been accomplishing a few things that are best tolerated in the dreary days of winter: tedious tax preparation, overdue cleaning and stewing in our own juices.

Sadie has gained a little bit of weight after spending the past year neurotically fretting and fussing over the addition of Camouflage and Mulligan into the main portion of the house. I call them the “nemesisters” because they all hate each other so much, yet they must co-exist in order to stay warm and fed under my roof. Like my Dad always used to say when we kids were giving him back-talk, “It’s my way or the highway!”

Mulligan, previously a skinny kitten full of worms, has officially grown into her huge, haunting eyes of starved youth. They are now lively and devilish, peering through the spindles from a lofty hallway that overlooks the main living area of the house. The refrigerator door rarely opens without Mulligan’s eyes opening right along with it, sizing up her chances of snagging a piece of 3-day-old chicken that Sadie has been given for weight gain.

Camouflage generally doesn’t stake out the kitchen or eat anything but dry cat food. However, one night I inadvertently found her weak spot when she insisted on inspecting and raiding a bag that previously held an Arby’s sandwich. Apparently Arby’s is Camo’s addiction. Upon careful consideration, I’m not sure how I feel about this, to be honest.

But Camo is the good girl. She likes to watch me do odd jobs around the house in the hopes of getting her head scratched and her nose rubbed while I’m fixing the toilet flapper, folding laundry or working on the computer. I’ve deputized her as the Special Feline Assisting Editor for the Urbana Daily Citizen.

From my bay window overlooking the picturesque rural neighborhood, I see the children celebrating snow days while pulling their sleds together down the road and toward each other’s houses. Some of the luckier kids have exhilarating hills in their back yards. In the summer, other kids on the road host outdoor parties where their parents project movies onto large screens in the yards. One parent told me she thinks the road is like Disneyworld because of how the kids can have fun together safely in the shady shelter of a little forest.

Oh summer, where are you? I have three “nemesisters” and two of them need to go outside in your warm sunrays. Camo wants to sleep on the back deck all afternoon. Mulligan wants to hide in the woodpile and watch the neighbors’ ducks and chickens. Sadie wants Camo and Mulligan to go back outside and stay there all day so she can sleep in peace once again on the sofa. Sadie is so rattled by Mulligan stealing all of her food that she nearly caught her own tail on fire standing for too long in front of the wood stove.

Until then, I must work up the courage to make an appointment to take Mulligan to the veterinarian. I’m sure to receive a lecture about her double chin and her terrible attitude when she is grasped by the scruff for vaccinations. My guess is a hawk or a falcon tried to snag her when she was tiny, but she fought her way free and lived to harbor an entrenched phobia about anything that causes flapping motions, whooshing sounds or grasping moves on her neck. Ceiling fans terrify her. She terrifies the veterinarian. I see a one-day prescription for kitty nerve pills in her near future, then maybe a diet.

Mostly she needs to get outside and play again, just like the rest of us.

By Brenda Burns

Contributing columnist

Brenda Burns is the managing editor of the Urbana Daily Citizen. Reach her at This columns shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.

Brenda Burns is the managing editor of the Urbana Daily Citizen. Reach her at This columns shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.